The context of Psalm 51 is clear:
To the choirmaster. A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
These events are described in 2nd Samuel 11–12. In summary, David essentially murdered1 Uriah the Hittite in order to cover up an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife. So this verse causes me trouble:
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
—Psalm 51:4 (ESV)
David did sin against God, but it seems a stretch to say that he sinned against God only. Surely he sinned against at least Uriah, the soldiers who died with him (and their families), Bathsheba, his current wives, and even his unborn child. In addition, he probably sinned against Joab too by abusing his authority to settle a personal matter.
The logical connector "so that" seems out of place. Whatever connection there might be between a person sinning against God and God being blameless in judgment, I can't see how justice could be the purpose or explanation of sin.
Is there some way to understand this Psalm that resolves this conundrum? What am I missing?
- I initially wrote "put Uriah in mortal danger", but the more I look at the story, the worse David looks in it. The bit that seals it for me is that Uriah carries his own death warrant à la Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.